Radiating the love of God
By Jenna Ebener
One time in confession, I was sharing some of my difficulty coping with my lack of control in the lives of our students. The priest asked me if I blamed God. I was so taken aback by that question that it took me a few seconds to respond. Not once in my life have I questioned God’s goodness or love for me. I know the calamities and sadness in this world are the result of our human gift of free will. I am realizing more and more how blessed I am to have that faith.
I have never known a time without God. As far back as I can remember God has always been my constant friend and companion. When I was little, I remember praying every morning, “I love you, Jesus my savior” with such sincerity and love that those few words stayed with me all day.
A couple of years later, I wrote letters to God, talking to God as if he were right there next to me: “I like baseball, bubble gum, candy, race cars, French fries, nights without bedtimes, days without rules, dessert before dinner and my very favorite pet … I like telling you about the things I like. It’s my way of saying thanks.”
I am blessed to say my relationship with God has only grown over the years. I recognize now that this innate gift is the charism of faith: “Exceptional trust in the love, power, and provision of God and remarkable freedom to act on this trust” (“Discerning Charisms”). Among other things, this faith led me to pursue social work and to move to Colorado without knowing anyone.
I know that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is always there for me and have a beautiful plan for me. I still sin and struggle and have such a long way to go, yet the one thing I am certain of is God’s presence and his love for me. I know when I fail it is due to my humanness and not God’s lack of a desire to have a relationship with me. No matter how often I fall, he is always eager to welcome me with open arms and show me the way.
I recently re-watched the movie “The Shack” and was especially overcome by God’s love for us. The main character is so heartbroken over the brutal loss of his young daughter that his already strained relationship with God becomes pretty much non-existent … until he receives an invitation from God to go to the shack where his daughter was murdered. There, he comes to see God the Father in a variety of forms, changing depending on what he needs, until that relationship is restored to a level higher than ever before.
After this experience, the main character will never again doubt God’s presence, no matter what life throws at him, for he has witnessed firsthand the depth of God’s love for him and each of God’s children, including the murderer. In the movie God said, “Even when you don’t understand, you can know that I am at work in your life for good and then you will trust me.” I do not know what life holds, but I know that God has a plan and will not only lead the way but pave the way.
“The Shack” ended with the main character telling his friend “Papa [God] said to tell you he’s especially fond of you.” If we were to repeat that message to ourselves every day, how could we not help but radiate from the love of God?
(Jenna Ebener graduated in 2015 with a Master of Social Work from St. Ambrose University in Davenport.)